Google's "Helpful Content" Update Is Long Overdue
Google has announced that they’re rolling out a new algorithm update called the Helpful Content update .
It seems to be aimed at combating the scourge of AI-generated and content mill crap that has been ruining the Internet in recent months and years.
The reason why so many people (myself included) add “reddit” to the end of every search query – it’s the only way to guarantee genuine, human search results.
Quoted some of the most interesting points from the update announcement:
Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
Naturally, a lot of SEO's are shitting themselves over this because their entire career consists of outsourcing this kind of dog vomit content to target keywords.
I, for one, think it’s a step in the right direction.
That being said, Google has a history of punishing innocent sites in these updates so I won’t say too much too soon.
I have made the mistake over the years of outsourcing content from writers who simply summarize and rephrase what others have written, and in almost every case, those posts have not performed well.
Unlike a lot of other competitors in my niches, I still take a very hands-on approach to content creation. If I don’t write an article myself, I usually only outsource “homework” and then write the article in my own words inserting the data that my researchers have provided.
These posts have been bulletproof so far, but we’ll see how the update treats them.
The ruination of creative content
I’ve written about and alluded to this numerous times before:
- SEO is killing blogging (already has?)
- What To Do When People Steal Your Ideas (Online Business)
- Affiliate Marketing Fatigue: Sell Your Own Products Instead
Blogging and creating content (YouTube, etc.) used to be fun.
These were projects of passion and interest. SEO was an afterthought.
But this mad scramble for niche site ranking dominance came along and turned almost everyone - including big authority bloggers - into content mills to please the Google machine.
We stopped seeing blog posts like:
I’ve Decided To Learn To Scuba Dive This Year!
and instead got posts like:
20 Best Scuba Diving Products In 2022
Written and formatted perfectly to grab featured snippets and make Google happy, littered with affiliate links, but with zero human interest factor.
SEO took our focus off our readers.
YouTube is no different - it’s all mass produced, copycat crap designed to impress a machine.
I purchased a niche site and immediately abandoned it
I recently purchased a small niche site in an agricultural niche as an experiment.
The niche itself interested me and I had a bunch of ideas for fun content.
After sitting down to do some extensive analysis of the niche’s landscape and SEO, I promptly abandoned the project when I realized that there were literally hundreds - possibly thousands - of affiliate copycat sites clogging up the search results with almost identical content.
I’m talking sites with thousands of posts covering every micro aspect of the niche.
Even though I had ambitions to produce unique content for this site, there was just no way I wanted to invest time and energy into trying to be discovered. Even if I wrote an outstanding, expertise-derived article sharing my own experience, it would struggle to be seen.
How is Google going to fix it?
I personally think social indicators should weigh more heavily.
One of the best ways to measure a page’s worth is to look at how many people are talking about it. Backlinks are no longer reliable since people have worked out how to game that system.
Expired domain redirects, HARO, guest posts etc. enable incredibly shit bloggers to get powerful backlinks and jump the queue quickly.
Social engagement is much harder to fake.
Let’s see how the “Helpful Content” update goes
I don’t want to celebrate too soon.
But if Google’s update works as intended, then it could be a really good step in the right direction for quality content.